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May 14, 2011

Movie Review: Alien 2 - On Earth (1980, Blu-ray)

Let’s get this right out of the way: Alien 2: On Earth has absolutely nothing to do with Alien. In the 1980s, the Italians were way ahead of their time in the rip-off category. I know that today places like the SyFy Channel will put out a Fred Olen Ray epic like Almighty Thor hot on the heels of the big budget Thor film. That is called a ‘mockbuster.’ You see, you cannot copyright a word, like Thor. The name for a Norse god was around for a long time before Stan Lee and Marvel Comics. The Italians had us Americans beat by thirty years. You see, the word alien has been around a long time… and Alien 2, if it has nothing to do or takes nothing trademarked from Alien, is perfectly legal. I mean, Alien 2 has NOTHING to do with the original. The ‘monster’ is different, the story (what there is of it) is different… everything. That includes: good direction, wonderful acting, brilliant camera work, genius screenplay and more. Alien 2: On Earth has none of these things. There is something that Alien 2 does have, though, that the Ridley Scott epic doesn’t. A little girl with the hairiest arms on the planet and thanks to Midnight Legacy’s Blu-ray release I think I’m the first person in the world to notice it.

This disjointed, piss poor excuse for an alien thriller plays out as follows: There is a group of astronauts (as depicted in stock footage) ready to splash down. They go missing, but a mysterious space rock is found. Well, a lot of mysterious space rock is found. We are then introduced to a cute, bra-less geologist (Belinda Mayne) and her equally as cute in a late 70s/early 80s hippie way boyfriend (Mark Bodin) are spelunking wunderkind. The space thing happens, the geologist and her boyfriend, along with annoying friends, go bowling for a very long time, one of them is given a space rock and then they go into a cavern. While in the cavern, the space rock comes alive. Oh, wait! I forgot about the hairy little girl! The space rock is actually a living creature and the hairy little girl found one on the beach and it ate her face! Not well, it kind of looked like a paper mache mask I made in fourth grade. Nevertheless, back to the cave. The spelunkers are attacked by the rock-creature-thing, etc. and end up dying. To be honest, director Ciro Ippolito has some brilliant moments here in shooting the gore effects. The blood and guts itself is a bit amateurish, but Ippolito has it flying at the camera and blowing out of people’s eyes among other gruesome moments. The monster, though, is a little schizophrenic. At one point we’re told that a woman’s face has been ripped off, and then it is back and whole. The monster decapitates, sucks on someone’s face, eats a face, etc. It really can’t make up its mind. Fast forward and the geologist that refuses to wear a bra escapes and makes it back to the bowling alley, only to find that all of humanity has been compromised by the space rocks.

This is a fun film, was incredibly rare, but completely sucks. Some of the cast went on to work with Fulci, D’Amato, Bava and the other great Italians, but that isn’t saying much. The worst part is that Ippolito is just so awful at most everything the film is a better comedy than a horror film. Midnight Legacy, though, has started their Blu-ray releases off with a bang. No matter how horrible the film is, the 35mm transfer is gorgeous and those of you who had been waiting for a North American release of this film for around thirty years can really sink your teeth into this.

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